Employee financial wellbeing

Employee financial wellbeing and mental health

24 October 2022

With the cost of living continuing to rise, financial uncertainty is at the forefront of everyone’s minds. Over 8 in 10 (83%) adults reported an increase in their cost of living in March 2022 compared with around 6 in 10 (62%) adults in November 2021.1 This number is likely to continue to rise as fuel and food bills increase. 

It might not come as a surprise to learn that financial wellbeing can have a big impact on our mental health. A survey of nearly 5,500 people with experience of mental health problems by the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute found that 86% of respondents said their financial situation had made their mental health problems worse.2

Financial wellbeing can affect mental health in a number of ways, including:

  • Worry at not being able to make ends meet
  • Intense feelings of anxiety
  • Lack of sleep
  • Avoidance of letters or calls from creditors
  • Worsening of existing mental health
  • Loneliness
  • Feelings of shame or stigma at experiencing financial struggles
  • Depression
  • Guilt at not being able to provide for family

How does financial wellbeing affect mental health in the workplace?

Financial wellbeing can also have a big impact on people in the workplace. Two-thirds of employees who are struggling financially report at least one sign of poor mental health that could affect their ability to function at work, including loss of sleep, poor concentration, and reduced motivation.3 Another survey found that 20% of employees claimed to have lost their motivation at work due to financial stress, while 17% claimed it had made them feel tired and distant.4

Our financial situation can often be seen as a taboo subject, with it rarely being discussed in the workplace amongst colleagues. If a member of your team is struggling financially, they may not feel comfortable discussing this with you or a member of your team. One survey found that 50% of UK workers are uncomfortable when it comes to discussing their finances with their employer.4 This means that it can be hard to know when one of your team may be struggling with their financial wellbeing.

So, are there some common signs that you can look out for amongst your team that may indicate financial wellbeing struggles?

  • Looking stressed or anxious. 
  • Low mood. 
  • Not engaging with others.
  • Not eating lunch and skipping meals. 
  • Decline in productivity. 
  • Being forgetful.
  • Overspending to feel better.
  • Difficulty in making decisions.

How can employers support the financial wellbeing and mental health of their team?

While employers may feel that the cost of living situation is out of their hands when it comes to how it affects their employees, there are steps that you can take to help look after your teams’ mental health when it comes to financial wellbeing. Eugene Farrell, Mental Health Lead at AXA Health, shares his tips:

  • Provide financial education, tools and resources to your team and signpost your team to the support that is available both internally within your business and externally
  • If you have one in place, remind employees that your Employee Assistance Programme can help with debt support as well as mental health support
  • Provide training to line managers to look out for signs that a member of their team may be struggling with their financial wellbeing or their mental health
  • Encourage your team to talk about their problems in order to normalise discussions. This can start with you as the business owner. If you share when you’re struggling, it can encourage others to feel comfortable sharing when they may be struggling too
  • Encourage skills training that helps employees to move to higher paid roles. This can help both their financial wellbeing and also their motivation and self esteem in regards to their career
  • Look into providing employee discounts schemes if you don’t already, such as retail discounts or discounted gym membership 

How we can help

With an Employee Assistance Programme* in place, your team can get help with the things that are affecting them right from the start – before they start to impact their wellbeing and productivity. Whether they’re going through have financial concerns, are going through a family breakup or are struggling with the stresses of work, you can rest assured that they’ll have someone to talk to confidentially by phone – 24/7, 365 days a year.

Find out more about our Employee Assistance Programme, including what is and isn’t covered, and get a quote today

*Our EAP options are not available on their own, without other cover options in the plan.

Our Mental Health option is subject to previous medical history.

Sources and references

1ONS, 2022

2Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, 2019

3Mental Health at Work 

4Employment Hero,2022